Nagambie returned to the winners list with a season-defining 16-point win against fellow top-two aspirant Tallygaroopna on Saturday.
The Lakers have shored up a top-two spot after the win, knocking the Redlegs out of contention in the process.
The Lakers were no doubt spurred on by the return of their midfield brigade, with Michael Roberts and Anthony Haysom returning from injury, and ruckman Steve Barber back in the fold after an overseas trip.
‘‘Playing a top-three side, we always expected a tough game, and we got that in spades. It was good, contested footy all day,’’ coach Linc Sullivan said.
Nagambie didn’t have it all its own way however, with the Redlegs coming to play early on.
After Nagambie scored the opening goal of the game, it was all the Redlegs for the majority of the opening term, and they took an 11-point lead in to the first break.
The Lakers were somewhat saved by Tallygaroopna’s inaccuracy in front of goal, with the Redlegs kicking a less than impressive 3.7 in the opening quarter.
Sullivan said it was good to get the game back on the Lakers’ terms late in the first term, and that continued through the second and third quarters, with the Lakers holding a 25-point buffer by the final change.
‘‘We probably had a few missed opportunities in that first quarter, but all credit to Tally, they were ready to play from the first bounce,’’ he said.
‘‘They were working hard and we struggled to get our hands on the ball early, but from there on in we were well-drilled and it looked much more positive in the back-end of the first quarter.
‘‘We had our game plan in place, and we stuck to our systems and game plan and we didn’t stray from it which was pleasing to see.’’
With veterans Marty Shadbolt and Michael Roberts resting on the sidelines for the bulk of the final quarter, Tallygaroopna staged a fight back late.
The Redlegs kicked four late goals, and got to within two goals of the Lakers at one stage, but Nagambie was able to hold-off for the crucial victory.
‘‘It probably got a bit close there at one stage but I felt like we were always going to hold them out in the end,’’ Sullivan said.
Pat Rattray provided a solid target up forward, booting six goals, while Anthony Haysom showed no signs of the concussion that kept him out of last week’s game, and booted three goals to be among his side’s best.
But it was Anthony’s older brother Danny that was most damaging for the Lakers.
‘‘Danny played forward and through the midfield and was pretty important for us,’’ Sullivan said.
‘‘He always works hard and he was really explosive from the stoppages on Saturday. He’s a strong bloke and he’s hard to stop in those situations.’’
While they’ve had a bad run with injuries this season, the Lakers managed to make it through unscathed from Saturday’s encounter.
The win moves Nagambie in to second place, sitting a game clear from Tallygaroopna in third.
With a guaranteed four points from this weekend’s Ardmona bye, then a final-round match with 11-placed Longwood, the Lakers can all but lock in a top-two spot and a week off in the first week of finals.
Sullivan expects ruckman Alex Tattersall (broken finger) to be back in the side for the Longwood clash.
Score: Nagambie 15.10 (100) d Tallygaroopna 11.18 (84).
Goals: P. Rattray 6;A. Haysom, K. Winter-Irving 3; M. Waterson 2; M. Roberts.
Best: D. Haysom, P. Rattray, A. Haysom, M. Nolan, K. Winter-Irving, B. Robinson.
Nagambie was no match for ladder-leader Tallygaroopna, going down by 32 points on Saturday.
The Lakers looked a chance early, leading by nine points at quarter-time and seven points at the main break, but they fell away considerably in the second half.
Tallygaroopna showed why it has remained undefeated this season, dominating all over the ground in the third and final quarters.
The Lakers were kept goal-less in the third term and managed just one goal in the last quarter, while the Redlegs ran rampant up forward with eight majors.
Jase Shiels and Michael Watson kicked two goals each for the Lakers, but it was Riley Bazeley and Will Ulrich that were a clear best-on-ground for the Lakers in the loss.
Score: Nagambie 5.5 (35) d Tallygaroopna 10.7 (67).
Goals: J. Shiels, M. Watson 2; M. Mensfeld.
Best: R. Bazeley, W. Ulrich, J. Shiels, M. Sanderson, J. Adams, P. McLoughlin.